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According to today's Age, "Government schools have been told not to pursue families who do not pay for essential learning materials such as textbooks, stationery and art equipment, but instead to find ways to pay from their own budgets."

PV Executive Officer Gail McHardy is quoted in the article. 

Gail said many parents who previously had the income to contribute to schools’ fundraising efforts were in a worse financial position this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We support principals being able to deliver a quality service but they need to be very mindful that you don’t transfer the responsibility onto the community when the community is already hurting," she said.


 

n last month’s issue we highlighted that the Department of Education and Training’s School Council Training, run by Synergistiq, has moved to a Virtual (Live) Event model, accessed via Zoom from the comfort of your own home. There are four training modules available (Governance, Strategic Planning, Finance and a special module for School Council Presidents).

You can view and register for events through the Synergistiq website here – there are currently a number of metropolitan and regional events running, aimed specifically at council members in different areas across the state, to allow you to meet and network with council members in your region. That said, anyone is welcome to join any meeting, and there are lots of time and date options to suit you. If you would like to organise training sessions for a particular date and time that suits your council, you can do so here; our team will be in touch shortly. Please note, all training is free for councils of government schools.

Here is some feedback from parent members on council, who have attended School Council Training Virtual (Live) Events this year:

 
“I am grateful to the facilitator and other participants for assisting me to learn more about my role as a parent representative on school council”
 
“The content and delivery was much more interesting and easy to be understand than I expected. I wish I had this training at the start of my role on school council.”
 
“A very lovely presenter who was engaging and easy to listen to and interact with. A very informative and enjoyable session!”
“Learnt what is expected of me as a school council member, given me a better understanding and hopefully I can help my school benefit from my input and put the best foot forward for our school and its future”

 

 

This article is by Jade Millman, a parent at Whittington Primary School

Since having our Community Engagement Officer, Dori, things have improved so much at our school (Whittington Primary School in Geelong). Dori is invaluable and such an important part of our school community. Dori helped the parents start Whittington Primary School's first Parents and Friends in mid-2019, which since has held a Bunnings BBQ, family days, organized a buddy bench for the school yard, Christmas parties and lots of other great activities involving parents and students.

Support for parents

I truly believe as parents, we would not have been able to have achieved what we have without our Community Engagement Officer. Dori has brought not only the parents and school community together but the actual school itself seems to run better. The students started to run and maintain a fully sustainable veggie patch with the help of Dori – and the students love it! Having a Community Engagement Officer is so great for our school, Dori is very approachable and helpful – we all as parents need someone like that at schools, talking to Dori takes a lot of the authoritarian feeling out of the equation – approaching busy staff can be quite daunting to some parents!

Building family engagement

Having a Community Engagement Officerat our school has made an immense difference between parents and the school. Like I said, the staff and teachers are often very busy and having some one relaxed and easy to engage with has changed that and balanced out the communication. Its also worth mentioning how the students will often seek out Dori when possible, before other staff members with certain needs, taking a lot of stress off the teachers. Our Community Engagement Officeris always happy to help. I think every school would benefit greatly from a Community Engagement Officer.

Photo: Dori (left) and Jade at our 2019 Conference.

Home Schooling

 

Having three kids at home for an extended period of time,

Heaven help for I have committed no crime.

It started off as unique, an adventure and fun

But lockdown 2.0 has been hard to get the schooling done.

You ask them once, you tell them twice. Now that’s it. It’s all on the line!

Do your school work and get it all In, or you are mine!

 

One would think, as parents, you could get the best out of your kids,

I put it to you, that this someone else’s job and I am taking bids.

All they have to do is show up online, and complete the tasks at hand.

Surely it is not that much of a demand!

But It was never going to be that simple. The arguments and distractions, they take away from all the fractions.

How hard can it be, schooling from home,

Well let me tell you, we should have all known.

We wouldn’t trade places with teachers, not for one minute

The patience of a parent, certainly comes with a limit.

We appreciate our teachers because we now know, teaching is tough

Parents and teaching, well, it is really rough.

Parents all over Victoia, we have been tested like never before.

We thought teaching was an easy score .

But we parents have come to agree, Teachers are the best – and now we all see!

 

We are beaten, We give up. We can’t do this anymore.

For goodness sake people, follow the rules.

We parents desperately need these kids back in schools!

 

This poem was written by a parent from Rowville Primary School.

 

Now more than ever, your Parent Club is a vital social hub for parents to support each other and share ideas.

Our new website page has tips on how to keep your Parent Club going during home learning. 

There's also a chance to share the good things your club is doing. We know that Parent Clubs are coming up with creative ways to keep their vital activities going during the COVID-19 pandemic. Share those ideas around!


 

PV Executive Officer Gail McHardy is quoted in this article from the Age about the recently-announced 'roadmap' for a return to on-site schooling. The article summarises how the return to school will work and gives the views of a range of organisations in the education field. 

Gail said she empathised with the frustration being felt by all households with students still at home, while the reopening of regional schools was good news for country areas.

"None of this has been fair or easy on anyone or anywhere in regard to how the pandemic has impacted on us to all live, work and learn." 

Photo: Education Minister James Merlino announcing the 'roadmap' for schools yesterday.

 

Parents Victoria has made a submission to the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee of the Victorian Parliament, about the Government's response to the COVID-19 crisis. PV's Gail McHardy also made a verbal submission to the Committee (transcript available below).

The submission focuses on clear communication and strong relationships between schools and families as critical elements in dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 in schools. The submission includes responses from our ongoing parent survey

 


 

The latest issue of NoticeBoard, the newsletter of the Association for Children with a Disability is out, and as usual it's full of great supportive information for parents of children with disabilities, including:

  • Preparing for your Student Support Group meeting: details of a free online workshop for parents and carers. Student Support Group (SSG) meetings with your child's school are one of the best ways to find new, creative approaches to support your child learning from home. This workshop will show you how to prepare and get the best from these meetings. Choice of dates. 
  • "It's a marathon, not a sprint" - a parent's story of overcoming difficulties and working with her son's school to achieve a positive outcome for him. 
  • ...and lots more.

 

PV Executive Officer Gail McHardy was interviewed by SBS News for a story on VCE assessment; specifically last week's announcement of special consideration for all VCE students. 

Gail said:

"For the 2020 VCE cohort, everything's a bit of an unknown going forward. There's obviously a high level of anxiety among students.

"The impact has predominantly been about the pivoting back and forth, going on-site then back to learning from home and, not being able to share in the end of their secondary schooling life.

"When the anxiety is high, how can they remain calm and how can they continue to focus?"


 

Education MInister James Merlino announced changes to VCE assessment at a press conference this afternoon.

Mr Merlino announced that special consideration for the impacts of COVID-19 will be extended to all VCE students. Special consideration has previously been available on a case-by-case basis, in cases of illness or injury, and students needed to apply for it. This year, every student will be assessed individually and the impacts of COVID-19 (including absence from school, family responsibilities and mental health) will be taken into account. Mr Merlino said that no student will be disadvantaged because of the impacts of COVID-19.

Extra support for vulnerable students

Mr Merlino also announced extra funding for programs to support vulnerable students and mental health programs.

The extra funding will help to boost:

  • Mental health training for school staff
  • Mental health practitioners in schools (they will be available in all schools including special schools)
  • Programs such as Navigator that support vulnerable students

 


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